How I wrote my First Novel.

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They say that everyone has at least one novel or book inside them, the trick is knowing how to get it out.

I’ve just had my first novel published, but it has been a long and winding road to get to that stage. It is so different from writing a hub for instance of perhaps 500-2000 words, because it really is a physical and mental marathon to put 70-120k words down on paper.

My book is 105,000 words which makes 350 pages of reading.

Importantly I selected a font, that was easy and big enough to read with ease.

I knew that my writing lacked professionalism, but I was not sure what to do about it. I was determined to get my stories out of my head and onto paper so I eventually signed up for an open university study at home course, for ‘creative writing’. Something you defiantly need is time, what some might call spare time, which few of us do have.

The course dealt with the various aspects of a novel, plot, sub-plots, theme, characters, and so on. These were things that I was aware of, but that I had not really thought about in depth or even identified. I had just written and written and written without any structure or planning.

I had not one story, but eight of them all produced in the same manner. As soon as I began my course, I knew that I had a lot of editing and rethinking to do. Learning writing techniques takes time, practice, and discipline. Writing a novel can be a daunting task over months and sometimes years and to prevail commercially the author needs to exhibit a brand of toughness rarely experienced in other occupations.

Of all the stories, I had written one stuck out for me as being the most interesting and enjoyable. I soon realised that there was more than one book in this story and I was able to split it into three books. I had enough material as an outline so the next step was to make a serious start on the first book.

The idea for this story came to me out picnicking with my family. We used to go to a tumbled down cottage with a wonderful atmosphere and in a most pleasant setting high on the fells above a small Lake District town called Cartmel. My son called the place his secret cottage, and I knew that there must be so many stories that could be written about it; it just looked the part.

Although I had a location and fragments of the story I needed an opening that would set the tone for the first chapters. I must have reworked this opening fifty or more times to make it say just what I wanted.

It was the wildest of nights, on the bleakest of moors.

Ben Stone ran for his life; he was soaked to the skin and

the bitter cold wind cut deep to the bone. With each thud

of his heart and every staggering step, he grew wearier. It

was the insistent, terrifying baying of the chasing hounds

that forced him on.

The rain was driving so hard into his face that he could

hardly see, and most of the time he was just running

blindly on. At times, he staggered forward on the uneven

dirt track; the loose stones twisted his ankles.

at last I was happy with it.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Janet's Fosse a magical place.Janet's FosseJanet's Fosse from the top
Janet's Fosse a magical place.
Janet's Fosse a magical place.
Janet's Fosse
Janet's Fosse
Janet's Fosse from the top
Janet's Fosse from the top

Locations from my past

Another location was a place I visited on a school trip in 1959 and I have been in love with ever since. It is called Janet's Fosse near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales.

It took two full days travel to reach the place Mace
was heading for, and everyone was totally exhausted by
the time they arrived. In other circumstances it was a
picturesque place, a well hidden fosse, with a waterfall
that fell thirty feet into a small deep pool surrounded by
overhanging trees.

Church and Cottage

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is the little church near the secret cottageThis is the cottage from the road. I think there is even less of it than there was in 1975
This is the little church near the secret cottage
This is the little church near the secret cottage | Source
This is the cottage from the road. I think there is even less of it than there was in 1975
This is the cottage from the road. I think there is even less of it than there was in 1975 | Source

That was in the mid seventies, but I did nothing about it until I had a little time in the mid eighties. There was no way I could have bashed the story out on a typewriter, I did buy an electric one, but I have to admit being probably the worst speller in the world, meant that I was not going to get far. My teacher in English at school once told my parents that I could tell a great story, but that I could not spell it.

I kept the story going in my mind for the next 20 years, and it was only in 2010 that I finally had the time and a spell checker so that I could make a start. I knew the characters so well that I had to make a real effort to remember to explain them to any potential reader.

I found it helped to write the various aspects of each character down separate from the story because sometimes you have to be specific about certain details and it is easy to make a mistake later on. Height, weight, colour of eyes and hair are only part of your character so write it down for later.

We built my little studio and I am in it every day now.
We built my little studio and I am in it every day now. | Source

New Ideas

Book three is up and running, and this time I'm using a very different technique to organise and plot the story. Before I would start at one end and just write which meant that I sometimes had to go back and adjust the plot. This time I'm sketching out chapters and then when they are finished I'll go back write the links. So far, I have about 20k words and it has been really easy to make sure that the plot and timeline keep running smoothly.

Telling your Story

I kept the story going in my mind for the next 20 years, and it was only in 2010 that I finally had the time and a spell checker so that I could make a start. I knew the characters so well that I had to make a real effort to remember to explain them to any potential reader.

I found it helped to write the various aspects of each character down separate from the story because sometimes you have to be specific about certain details and it is easy to make a mistake later on. Height, weight, colour of eyes and hair are only part of your character so write it down for later.

Synopsis

I found writing the synopsis more difficult than writing the whole book, and eventually I asked the lady who had been proof reading for me to write it.

It is a saga of a boy who finds himself in a cruel world protecting another’s honour. The story is a mix of romance and adventure. There are some interesting twists of fate awaiting him.

Synopsis.

The story is about Young Ben Stone who is fleeing for his life over the bleak Yorkshire Moors. From being a child, he has been besotted by the local landowner’s daughter Ruth, but after her wicked brother is accidentally killed, Ben fears that he will be blamed. Ruth convinces him he should run; otherwise, her father who is also the local magistrate will probably have him hanged for murder.

Trying to keep out of the way of the law, he runs into a wandering band of thieves. They take him as a prisoner and he is forced to endure a desperate winter in their secret lair. When he does escape their clutches, his fortune changes, and he is taken in by a friendly parson, who runs an orphanage in Cartmel, where Ben finds a new life.

He also finds new interests, and begins working for a retired navigator who owns a chandler’s shop in Barrow in Furness where he learns the skills of map reading and chart making, but this is rudely interrupted when Ben is pressed into the navy. The year is 1801 and the Royal Navy is desperate for men.

Ben takes to life in the navy, and quickly gains promotion. He is set for a promising career, when his past returns to haunt him, in the person of Ruth, who has been married off to the new Governor of Jamaica and needs transporting out to the Caribbean on Ben’s ship.During the voyage, Ruth takes the opportunity to revive Ben’s feelings for her.

When he returns to England, he is confronted by his past and has to face a court-martial over the death of Ruth’s brother. Can he clear his name? What part will Lady Ruth play in his future? Ben is in for many varied adventures before his life is settled.

Guilty of Honour action packed adventure

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Independent Review

Ben Stone has mastered being at the wrong place at the wrong time. His worse instance of bad luck yet – being framed as the murderer of the regional magistrate's son - is what puts the book's main plot in motion.

The chase is an intense one. Dogs and men alike are hounding him, and to make matters worse, the weather is absolutely terrible. Even as Ben is running, he knows escaping will mean never seeing his aunt, uncle, and the girl he was falling in love with behind. Then again, it's perhaps a good thing Ben got away from Ruth, the girl he was falling for. After all, she's the one who has framed him for her accidental murder, and she isn't very guilty about the murder or the framing.

Thanks to quick thinking and the help of a friend, Ben is able to escape with a tangible plan, but getting away from his town doesn't mean he has truly escaped. Being framed for the murder of the magistrate's son, even in the 18th century, is the type of thing one doesn't easily escape from.

Unfortunately, Ben doesn't make it too far before he is kidnapped, rather spontaneously, by a group of people who make a living by hurting and stealing from others. While in that group, he meets Jenny, a girl who helps and falls for him. Even better, he still makes it to the town his friend told him to escape to, just...not in the way he expected to get there.

Again and again, Ben's life takes another sharp turn, but little parts of his past continue to follow him. When Ben and Ruth give themselves to each other for the first time, Ruth tells Ben, “This means you'll belong to me forever.” There's a sinister note to her words.

In a sense, she is absolutely right.

Ben's bad luck when it comes to being at the wrong place at the wrong time, however, works to his benefit. Each time he becomes part of someone else's life as a result of being kidnapped or in a fight, that takes him further away from the town where he was framed for murder. His kindness, work ethic, and great looks also helps him get by fairly well no matter his circumstances.

Guilty of Honour is about survival and escaping from murder, but it's also just the tale of a young man becoming an adult.

After the second kidnapping, I grew to expect that it would only be a matter of time before Ben was kidnapped again. Sometimes that anticipation seemed like a good thing; it gave me something to look forward to whenever the plot slowed down. Other times, my expectation that Ben would be kidnapped the moment he did something as small as slightly deviate from his normal way of doing things made that ongoing plot point seem contrived.

For the most part, I found the story easy to follow. The only sub-plot that really confused me was the one involving the first kidnapping, the one where Ben meets Jenny. Why did the man in charge of the group find it necessary to kidnap Ben and keep him along? I couldn't understand why the leader went through all that work and pain to keep and hunt down Ben. There didn't seem to be much of anything in it for himself, at least not when he first kidnapped Ben.

I had a hand in designing the cover and I think it is exciting in itself. We also came up with this banner to use on Facebook and my blogs.

Hub Pages helped

Writing on hubpages has been a great help, partly because when I was having real motivational problems with the book it meant that at least I was writing something and partly from useful criticism written by other hubbers. I also picked up ideas and saw different ways to deliver a point or express a thought. You may notice that even my recipes tend to be full of little anecdotes and stories, which I think increases the interest and shows that there is more to cooking than ingredients. Similarly, there is more to a story than its plot and just like cooking you need to bring everything together for the right taste, let it simmer awhile to add heat, season it to spice it up and melt it before delivering it hot and tasty to the reader.

I disappear ever day into my studio across the courtyard from the house and bury myself in my writing, painting, or music, and if you are going to write then you really do need your own place to get away.

Long Slog

Writing is a lonely business at times; the only characters you really want to be with are those from your book. I find that even when I’m not writing, I’m still partly absorbed in the story, and whether I’m in the bath in a shop or watching television my characters are lurking somewhere in a recess of my mind. In a way that is important because you need to know them intimately, you have to know how they would react in any given situation.

I’ve recently taken to using speech conversion software which saves typing although to be honest it takes a long while for the software to understand you. Mine is about 90% accurate, sometimes its mistakes are quite funny, at other times it is really frustrating.

Don’t be put off, but if you are going to write a 100k+ book, be warned it is a bit of a slog at times. When it’s done and you see it in print for the first time with a glossy cover and all, then you know why you did it.

My goal seems to have shifted, it was just to get the book in print, but now I want people to read it. I’ve had press releases circulated and a couple of websites [www.meadtony.com} and [guilty of honour.wordpress.com] and I’m spending my time blogging, tweeting and Facebooking instead of getting on with the second book.

you can buy it as a Kindle book at a very modest price,

Isbn 9781477239339.


Adventure on the High seas

Guilty of Honour
Guilty of Honour

Young Ben Stone is fleeing for his life over the bleak Yorkshire Moors. From being a child, he has been besotted by the local landowner’s daughter Ruth, but after her wicked brother is accidentally killed, Ben fears that he will be blamed. Ruth convinces him he should go on the run; otherwise, her father who is also the local magistrate will probably have him hanged for murder.

Trying to keep out of the way of the law, he runs into a wandering band of thieves. They take him as a prisoner and he is forced to endure a desperate winter in their secret lair. When he does escape their clutches, his fortune changes, and he is taken in by a friendly parson. The parson runs a small orphanage in Cartmel, where Ben recovers his health and spirits.

A brief spell working at a chandler’s shop in Barrow in Furness is rudely interrupted when Ben is pressed into the navy. The year is 1801 and the Royal Navy is desperate for men.

Despite this poor start, Ben takes to life in the navy, and quickly gains promotion. He is set for a promising career, when his past returns to haunt him, in the person of Ruth the landowner’s daughter, who has been married off to the new Governor of Jamaica and needs transporting out to the Caribbean on Ben’s ship. During the voyage, Ruth takes the opportunity to revive Ben’s feelings for her.

When he returns to England, he is confronted by his past and has to face a court-martial over the death of Ruth’s brother. Can he clear his name? What part will Lady Ruth play in his future? Ben is in for many varied adventures before his life is settled.

 

© 2012 Tony Mead

More by this Author


Comments 29 comments

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

Thank you for sharing your work of art..and writing a book is a daunting task...I am going to check it out as it looks interesting. Congrats to you..and now starts the marketing process. Will share this around.


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

What a wonderful accomplishment! I checked out your book on Amazon, and it looks like a wonderful story that I'd like to read. I hope that you see great success from your work.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I found your experience interesting. In some ways similar to my own and in some ways different. My first book sat in my head and in brief notes for 20 years also. In the meantime I wrote this and that but nothing of significance. My second took me two years before proofreading began with the help of two dedicated friends. I hope to send out press releases and publish on Kindle and Lulu by February.

I hope you find a great deal of support here on HubPages. I've bought and read several hubbers books and have been impressed with the quality of the work.

Best of luck!


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

carol7777

many thanks for your support, I do appreciate you taking the time to write.

regards

Tony


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

mperrottet

many thanks for your comments, as you know the difficult bit is getting the word out, and I don't want my hub to seem like just an advert. I hope to write hubs on the various aspects of wriiting novels soon.

regards

Tony


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Kathleen,

you know the excitement of finally getting something published and the work and pain that is needed. the book is 120k approx, but I must have written twice that number to get the thing right.

Mine is out on Kindle and I've had a look at it. It made me smile to see it on amazon, that was a buzz.

regards

Tony


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend, first big congrats to you for getting your book published, i am so happy for you ! And thanks for sharing all this great information it will help anyone who is working on a book or just starting . I will look for your book and give it a read.

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I'll never forget my first byline when I was a reporter. It is a thrill to see your first book right alongside Gresham and Hemingway! Heady stuff!


Alexandra Kaohi profile image

Alexandra Kaohi 3 years ago from Honolulu, HI

When I read this story, I felt that I was really inspired, because i'm a new user here in Hubpages, and I didn't know what to write. But I gain courage and I was able to write my first poem entitled "Green Rabbit". I hope you continue on the hard working effort and become successful.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

HI kash

seasons greetings to you.

thank you for your kind words, I hope you do and that you enjoy it.

regards

Tony


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Kathleen

thank you for your visit and observation. I have nearly finished my second book so it will be good to see them together.

seasons greetings

Tony


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Alexandra

thank you for your visi and comments, I wish you success if you are new here. I have been here about 18 months or so and I really enjoy reading and writing and of course making new friends.

seasons greetings

Tony


Derdriu 3 years ago

Tony, It's interesting to read about all that you've done to move your story from your imagination into the exciting realm of book-publishing, marketing, and buying!

Congratulations oh Proper Champion Yorkshireman, and with many thanks for sharing and with best wishes for you, your book and your family, Derdriu


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Derdriu

Thank you for your comments and good wishes. Something that I particularly like about writing, and that is the research necessary to write a convincing account of an era, place or situation that one has never encountered. Like travel, it broadens your outlook on life.

many thanks Oh Celtic queen of all flutterbies. Seasons greetings to you and your family.


stessily 3 years ago

Tony, Please excuse my delay in reading this informative, interesting presentation on completing a first novel. Yorkshire is a place whence tales may be spun; it must be something about the air, something in the water and in the land. It's so exciting that you've spun your first tale. I'm also pleased that you've uploaded the novel's cover onto your profile page (it is my hope that you will always have some piece of your artwork as the wallpaper on your profile page).

Thank you for sharing your process and experiences in becoming a published author. I hope that you find time for the second ~ is it a sequel? Also, how 'bout a cookbook one of these days?

Your photos are wonderfully illustrative.

ttfn,

Stessily


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Stessily

thank you for your encouraging and kind comments. The second book of this trilogy moves at a brisk pace and i am hoping that it will be finished by March 13. Book 3 is started, but I am still playing with the story, I have an idea of where it will go. I am getting some positive reader feed back and a number of local shops are stocking it and have agreed for me to 'do a signing' as they say sometime in the New Year.

A cookbook is a certainty someday, I think Fabio and I need to get our heads together on that one.

you are right about Yorkshire having some very inspirational places, we complain about our rain and weather, but of course it makes the lush meadows and pretty rivers and streams that poets and writers chatter on about.

You should beam over with Scottie and we'll picnic by one of the streams, you can bring those fabulous popovers and I'll supply the bread.

ttfn

Tony


stessily 3 years ago

Tony, You will henceforth be known as the Yorkshire language's equivalent of Tusitala "teller/writer of stories", which was bestowed upon our mutual literary hero, Robert Louis Stevenson, by Samoans.

That is excellent about the book signings! That makes this so real. As well as receiving reader feedback. So terribly, terribly exciting for you, your family, and all, such as myself, who know you!

That picnic by one of the streams sounds wonderful. Scottie just said that he'll beam me there by the stars, not by GPS. (Yikes!) Yes, I'll bring the popovers, and your bread will be lovely. Perhaps I'll be inspired to write my second novel then. (My first novel, "Kittie Korn", was written at a young age and is somewhere in my cells.)

ttfn, Stessily


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

stessily

thank you for sharing my joy and pleasure in this milestone, not many people are so generous of spirit.

The title Tusitala would be an honour to receive if only I was worthy.

You should dig out Kittie Korn, with your writing skills and experience I am sure it would be a pleasure to read.

I seen Scottie steer by the stars before, I'll not put the kettle on for awhile yet. Try to pop over with a popover when ever you can.

Have a great Christmas

ttfn

yer owd Yorkie Pud


stessily 3 years ago

Tony, Unfortunately insecurities have a way of dampening generosity for some, but I can only feel great happiness for your milestone, and it is such a wonderful feeling, to experience in this way the camaraderie of a dream fulfilled.

Tusitala is a great title, perfect for RLS. And it's about time that a proper Yorkie champion sported that title!

"Kittie Korn" is buried somewhere in my subconscious. I was a wee lass when I typed it, perhaps around 12. Its length was somewhere between 200 to 400 pages. It must have ended up accidentally in the recycling pile at some point. I've sometimes thought of undergoing hypnosis to retrieve it. We'll see.

Yes, I've seen Scottie steer by the stars, too; he does reach his destination ~~~ eventually! I'll be happy to "pop over" with a popover whenever the stars are in proper alignment according to Scottie's specifications.

Best wishes for a great Christmas as well to me owd Yorkie pud an' 'is family.

ttfn, Stessily


scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 3 years ago from South Wales

Congratulations, Tony. I know how much hard work, dedication and effort goes in to writing a novel of this size. I wish you well and hope that your efforts are duly rewarded.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Taff,

many thanks for your well wishes, I think the hardest work is getting it out there and under peoples noses.

cheers and a Happy New Year

regards Tony


Sunnie Day 3 years ago

Hi Tony,

So good to connect with you on hubpages! I am honored to share your novel on other social media sites. It looks like such a great story and I wish you every success in marketing. The process of publishing can be cumbersome but in the end to see ones book in print, is so exciting. Wishing you the very best.

Sunnie


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Hi Sunnie

Many thanks for returning the call, you look to have covered some interesting topics with your hubs too.

If you'd like to review it for me, I'll send you a pdf copy for you to read. I understand you may be too busy, but if you do have time let me know.

regards

Tony


klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 3 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

What a wonderful personalized account of your writing process and a huge congratulations on the end result. The banner is absolutely fantastic, Tony! Just brilliant!

Kindest regards,

Kim


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

Klidstone1970

thank you for your visit and kind comment Kim.

It is a long lonely task at times, but sometimes it is easy to forget which world you belong to.

kind regards Tony


dianew profile image

dianew 3 years ago from Spain

Kudos to you Tony, I have always wanted to write a novel and never found the time, although I have a great deal of research and preparation already done... maybe one of these days! I have every intention of reading yours and look forward to it.

Well done and good luck, Diane

All the ups and extras


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire Author

dianew,

These days I have the time, but not always the will power, but I make myself write at least four hours a day either here or on the follow up book which is almost finished, and that usually is the hard bit tying in the loose ends.

If you do read it please let me know your opinion.

thanks for votes and nice comment.

ttfn

Tony


Kristleangel profile image

Kristleangel 2 years ago from Flagstaff

This was very helpful I have been stuck writing this book off and on for years and there are some new helpful ideas here. thank you.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 18 months ago from Yorkshire Author

Kristleangel

thank you for commenting. I hope you manage to finish your book

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